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Schrödinger’s nuts

Posted by Riaz on August 23, 2012 in Life |

Erwin Schrödinger. But *only* when you look at him…

Most of us are aware of the paradox of the famous imaginary experiment of Schrödinger’s cat. Briefly, it involves placing a cat in a box with a radioactive element that might or might not discharge a burst of harmful radiation that might or might not kill the cat. You might or might not check the box in an hour and the cat might or might not be dead.

That’s about it. Or maybe it isn’t. That’s the whole point of the paradox. Or is it?

(See what I did there? Or see what I *didn’t* do there?)

Several years ago when I used to actually read books and not jump to the last page to see who did it as I do these days ( I’m turning into Harry Burns), I read a wonderful biography of Erwin Schrödinger called ‘Life and Thought’ by Walter Moore. The ideas and themes of this book have remained with me and so, a few days ago when I was contemplating the meaning of life, I began to apply the paradox of Schrödinger’s cat to the search for truth.

Truth is a bit funny at times and can change as we re-write history or predict the future. Truth to one person can be a lie to another. Most people who have a little knowledge of philosophy, will say that there can only be truth with empirical evidence. Others with no knowledge of philosophy will say that truth derives from mass belief – if everyone believes it’s true, then it must be. A third group of people believe that truth originates from newspapers and television. There are rumours of a fourth group of people that believe that truth only exists in outer space and is transmitted by aliens, via curly drinking straws, into our brains.

Anyway, my search for the meaning of life (and truth) began with the following idea.

‘The secret to longevity is remaining interested in life.’

That’s it really, in a nutshell.

Hmm.

That’s it really in a nutshell

What if the nutshell was like Schrödinger’s cat? What if the meaning of life was a truth that may or may not be there, when you cracked open the nut?

Inside this nut could be the meaning of life. Alternatively, it might just be a walnut. Or a pecan. Or a hazelnut. Or even a cat.

 

As a side note, the idea that remaining interested in life is the secret to longevity came about due to me watching a documentary on Monty Python. Terry Gilliam was being interviewed about film-making and observed that making a good film depends on being constantly interested by new experiences. I can relate to that. It is easy to become bored by new experiences. Or at least, the experience of experiencing new experiences can grow stale, unless you constantly remind yourself that what you are experiencing is new (rather than recalling an old experience and applying it to the new one).

That last sentence took longer than normal to compose, by the way, and it wasn’t even worth it.

Anyway, I hope you all have a happy day and if you come across the secret of life trapped in a nut, please let me know. Oh, and that’s not *you* trapped in a nut and chancing upon the secret of life. I meant the secret of life itself, contained within a nut, and you coming across it. The english language is paradoxical too I guess.

 

Or is it?

 

Another example of a quantum paradox.

1 Comment

  • Martin says:

    Deeply Inspiring… after reading your article I found myself contemplating the life of a nut and wondering if nuts ever experience a paradox, this naturally lead to thoughts about parallel universes and I couldn’t help but wonder if there was a cat somewhere putting scientists into boxes with radio active cashews.

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